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How to Soften Hard Water in the Shower (5 Methods)

Some homeowners are lucky enough to have never experienced hard water in their showers. But if you’re among the unlucky ones in hardest-hit areas, you know how problematic it can get.

Although hard water is not a significant health concern, it can be a nuisance in many cases. For instance, high amounts of minerals in your shower’s water can cause dull hair along with dry and itchy skin. Not to mention, hard water can leave an unsightly film on your shower fixtures, including the showerhead and the faucet. Those hard to get rid of water spots on the mirror and glass shower door are also caused by hard water.

If you’re frustrated with all these hard water problems in your shower, you’re not alone. Thankfully, there are solutions to deal with hard water in the shower.

bathroom faucet limescale

Is Your Shower Suffering from Hard Water?

Dissolved minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron, and sometimes aluminum increase your water’s hardness. If you suspect that your shower is suffering from hard water, these are the common telltale signs.

  • Dry Skin. Because of the abundance of dissolved minerals in hard water, it leaves a soapy film long after the water has evaporated. Hence, you usually experience dry skin and other minor skin irritations after showering with hard water.

  • Troublesome Showers. The excess mineral content makes it difficult to lather your body as you’re taking a shower. At the same time, it’s equally difficult to rinse the lather from your skin using hard water. Ultimately, your shower won’t be very satisfying.

  • Soap Scum. Soap scum will eventually accumulate whether your shower has hard water or not. But the water hardness makes soap scum deposits accumulate on your shower area more quickly.

  • Chalky Streaks and Spots. Like the soapy film it leaves on your skin, hard water also leaves chalky spots and streaks all over your shower. Look out for these unsightly spots on your shower tiles and surfaces where the water regularly flows like on the shower curtain or glass shower door.

Pros of Using Soft Water in the Shower

Hard water in the shower and your home is not something that you should simply brush aside. Although it doesn’t cause major concerns, there are far more benefits if you shower with soft water instead.

  • Softer Skin. If you have especially dry skin, hard water won’t make things better. Showering with hard water then switching to soft water will create noticeable changes for your skin. For instance, there’s little to no residue left on your skin. Hence, you’ll feel more refreshed with hydrated skin after showering.

  • Less Frizzy Hair. Excess minerals from the hard water don’t only stick to your skin but your hair as well. As a result, you often get dull and lifeless hair even after a shower. This won’t be a problem if you shower with soft water. Like your skin, your hair will be more hydrated, and its natural oils will give it a shiner look.

  • Use Less Soap in the Shower. Although it doesn’t seem like much, you waste a lot of water when showering with hard water. But with soft water, it will not only take less water to lather your body and also less water to rinse off. Hence, showering with soft water will save you money on both shower products and water.

How to Soften Hard Water in the Shower

Now that we’ve established that softening hard water in the shower has plenty of benefits, it’s time to find out how this can be done, and there are a couple of effective solutions you can try.

Sodium Water Softeners

Sodium-based water softeners are probably the most popular and widely used method for many households for two reasons. One because it provides an effective whole-house water softening solution, and secondly, this type of water softener is cost-effective.

Pros

This method usually only requires salt bags, which are very affordable. There are minimal operating and maintenance costs, and it will also efficiently remove calcium and magnesium from your shower water. It will also get rid of the minerally taste of your water, which is always a plus.

Cons

Although it can remove the mineral-like taste of the hard water, it does make your water taste salty, and some people don’t appreciate that. And it isn’t the most convenient option, either, since you would need to recharge the resin beads, and that requires carrying salt bags or personally replacing the salt.

Potassium Chloride Water Softeners

Instead of sodium, this water softener uses potassium chloride, so it’s more eco-friendly. But the process is the same, and this solution can effectively remove hard water minerals like magnesium and calcium.

Pros

It’s effective in softening your shower’s water without leaving a salty taste, which is a plus for many. Potassium chloride can also improve the color of your water, something you can’t get from sodium-based water softeners.

Cons

Potassium chloride is more expensive than sodium, and it doesn’t filter out other contaminants in your water.

Salt-Free Water Filters

Potassium chloride may not contain sodium but remember that it’s still salt. So, if using salt in softening your shower water is not an option, there are still salt-free water softeners you can use. There are systems that you can connect to your main water line, which alter the crystal structures of magnesium and calcium as they pass through the system.

The end result is that minerals are less likely to bind to each other, so there’s less upscale and buildup in your shower.

Pros

It doesn’t require any chemical to work and there’s no need to buy or carry sacks of salt either. This method is also easy to maintain and won’t need electricity to run.

Cons

It only changes the crystal structures of minerals in the hard water. The process doesn’t necessarily mean that magnesium and calcium ions won’t be present in the shower water anymore. Hence, it wouldn’t be as effective in treating very heavy shower water.

Magnetic Water Conditioners

Like salt-free water filters, this unit is also attached to the waterline. It produces a magnetic field that can alter the behavior of salts and impurities in the water, including minerals. In the end, hard water will flow freely down the pipe and through your showerhead because mineral ions are separated from each other. That will also help them drain instead of sticking together and contaminate your shower area.

Pros

It’s one of the cheapest solutions to reduce the effects of hard water in your shower. This type of water conditioner is low maintenance and won’t need chemicals to work.

Cons

It’s not really a water softener and won’t remove magnesium and calcium from the water. It only conditions the water, so it flows freely, and while it’s effective in treating water that is not very hard, it won’t work on extremely heavy water.

Water Softening System

When it comes to the most effective and efficient method of softening hard water, installing an entire system is the best way to go. For instance, a reverse osmosis filtration system is an all-in-one filtration system that can get rid of the hard minerals in the water.

It can remove anything from magnesium to calcium, and other impurities, while removing foul smells or tastes in the water, and almost all contaminants.

Pros

It efficiently removes magnesium and calcium ions that make your shower water hard. It can also remove the bad mineral-like smell and taste of the water, along with other harmful contaminants.

Cons

It removes every trace mineral in the water, including the healthy ones. This type of filtration system also wastes a lot of water during this entire process.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why showering with soft water is so much better, and there are equally plenty of solutions to soften hard water in your shower.

But here’s a tip – you don’t have to use one method alone. You can also use a shower softener solution with another solution, like a filtration system. That will give you the best of what both water softening solutions can offer.

Mandy Phillips

As a frequent contributor to top US magazines and publications in the home improvement niche, Mandy has been known for sharing her expertise on how to clean, organize, and decorate bathrooms.

Additionally, Mandy has immense experience offering lifestyle tips and tricks to her readers.

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At Loo Academy, our mission is to offer trusted advice for everything related to bathrooms (design ideas, plumbing advice, showering & bathing tips, remodeling guides, and more) — a place where we all spend a great deal of time.

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